AEW President Tony Khan spoke in-depth in a new interview about the decisions he made over the past few weeks and admitted the company has lost millions of dollars due to the pandemic.
Speaking on the AEW Unrestricted podcast, Khan detailed everything that has ensued due to the COVID-19 pandemic – starting from the first empty arena Dynamite in March.
Tony confirms he made it clear to talent/staff while in Salt Lake City that doing shows going forward was totally voluntary. “Some people have taken me up on it and I’m glad. Because the last thing I’d want is anybody to feel uncomfortable in our work environment,” he said.
Khan then went on to detail how everything production related was up in the air due to things changing so rapidly in the world.
Regarding using an audience of wrestlers, Tony says he watched a lot of programming prior to the March 18 episode of Dynamite to see how other shows were being produced with the restrictions in place. This included other wrestling programs and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
Khan says Fallon’s early shows during the pandemic with a limited crew in the studio reacting to the host as a makeshift audience inspired his decision to use wrestlers in the crowd. It’s worth noting the “Tonight Show” has since changed their format to an at-home version of the program.
The AEW President also praised the work of Best Friends during the shows to hosts Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone, while noting how a majority of the matches didn’t have agents because everybody involved was mostly performing.
Regarding commentary, Tony revealed Shawn Spears and Colt Cabana were initially going to be used for color commentary prior to Chris Jericho saying he wanted to do it.
“We’ve talked a lot about what it took to put the show on, but let’s be honest. Why we’re doing it. For AEW, our partnership with TNT, putting on great shows, is our revenue stream right now cause we’re not doing the big events,” Khan additionally stated, before saying AEW led the world in per show attendance last year.
“This was going to be the best run of business we’ve ever had. And we’ve lost millions and millions and millions of dollars in live events and I don’t take it lightly, but I can’t take it out on the people that work here cause it’s not their fault,” he added. “We’ve really never let anybody go here as a company. I’m gonna be honest, there’s gonna be a day when someday we’re going to have to, but now is not the time.”
Listen to the full conversation below.